Beyond Locative Media

“We can get a sense of what Latour means by this by looking at “MILK,” a project by Ieva Auzina and Esther Polak exhibited by Latour in his “Making Things Public” exhibit at ZKM that also won the 2005 Golden Nica at Ars Electronica. The work of a group of Latvian locative media artists, MILK is clearly indebted to more traditional aspects of the movement in that it uses GPS trace-routes. But instead of seeking a phenomenological regrounding of the self, the MILK team traced the path of milk from its origins in the udder of a cow in rural Latvia to a cheese vendor in the Netherlands. To be sure, this project is still more suggestive than fully realized: MILK’s artists are not terribly interested in Latour’s reading and instead see their work more as a form of romantic landscape art. Nevertheless, MILK suggests a powerful vision of how locative technologies could allow one to more fully understand how products are commodified and distributed through the actions of global trade, thereby making visible the networked society. Here Fusco’s anti-mapping diatribe runs aground, for when tied to a materialist vision, the recent turn to maps is among the strongest critiques of globalization available to us. Recognizing this, philosopher Alain Badiou referred to the maps of power drawn by artist Mark Lombardi as “the creation of a new possibility of art and a new vision of the world.”


“Even MILK’s project is not about milk, but rather about the people involved in the production and distribution of milk as it transforms from Latvian biological fluid to Dutch product. “

Beyond Locative Media
by Marc Tuters and Kazys Varnelis
Networked Publics, 2005